Learn About Sexuality

Cunnilingus is sensual but does not cause orgasm

During intercourse a woman is assumed to respond in such a way that is complementary to the male anatomy. She is supposed to orgasm through stimulation of the vagina. By contrast, during cunnilingus a woman is assumed to respond in a way that mirrors a man’s anatomy. So in this situation a woman is supposed to orgasm through stimulation of the clitoris. No one ever comments on this contradiction.

The parallels between the clitoris and the penis are clear even to heterosexuals. Alfred Kinsey and Shere Hite highlighted the role of the clitoris in female orgasm. More people are aware of its function. So although heterosexuals continue to assume that women are stimulated to orgasm through the vaginal stimulation provided by intercourse, they see no problem in simultaneously assuming that women are stimulated to orgasm through manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris.

The fact that men (and women) can discern no difference between these two activities (no one ever comments that these orgasm techniques don’t work they simply say they prefer intercourse) is telling. If women were able to orgasm from one (or the other) then they would know that the other technique does not lead to orgasm. And so would their lovers. The solution has been to imply that different women orgasm as a result of stimulating quite different anatomy or that the same woman achieves orgasm on different occasions as a result of stimulating different anatomy. Both these suggestions are nonsensical and not backed by the male experience. Orgasm only occurs in response to stimulating the sex organ and different women cannot have a different sex organ to each other.

Men (and women) assume that some (but not all) women are supposed to orgasm from cunnilingus for a number of reasons. Cunnilingus is associated with lesbians. Heterosexuals often have the impression that homosexuals are more actively sexual than heterosexuals. This is in part due to the blatant promiscuity of many homosexual men. It is also due to the perception that homosexuals have to focus on more explicit genital stimulation (because intercourse is not an option between two people of the same sex). Intercourse can be viewed as a ‘lovemaking’ act because of the non-specific genital stimulation via the coupling of coitus rather than through manual or oral contacts. The clitoris has not traditionally been part of heterosexual lovemaking being too explicit for most heterosexual women, who prefer the more implicit stimulation of lovemaking.

Porn shows women apparently in ecstasy when their clitoris is stimulated orally. Women are also portrayed apparently enjoying ad hoc clitoral stimulation by themselves or a partner. Porn reflects popular beliefs that women’s arousal is increased by any form of foreplay. Women are also shown apparently having an orgasm without the kind of continuous stimulation of the sex organ that even men need to achieve orgasm.

Misunderstandings over cunnilingus arise primarily because of the belief that women should respond to sexual activity exactly as men do. Cunnilingus is common in pornography because it is a male turn-on. Women in the general population rarely refer to sexual pleasure in general but they are too embarrassed to even mention explicit genital stimulation.

Many more men talk about providing women with cunnilingus than there are women who talk about their enjoyment of it. There is certainly no widespread discontent among women that men are unwilling to provide cunnilingus. Women do not go to male prostitutes for oral sex. This is because cunnilingus is mildly pleasurable but it does not cause orgasm.

A woman may accept a man’s desire to pleasure her through cunnilingus even if she knows that orgasm is impossible. Eventually though she has to stop him, which he may interpret as signalling her satisfaction or orgasm.

A man enjoys fellatio because a mouth stimulates the penis in a wet and warm environment. Fellatio simulates the male experience of intercourse. But cunnilingus does not simulate the female experience of intercourse. Also the penis is highly sensitive whereas the clitoris is almost inert.

During cunnilingus a lover’s tongue gently stimulates the tip of the clitoris in a wet and warm environment. The mouth provides very similar stimulation (warm and wet) to the vagina, which explains why men enjoy fellatio. But the clitoris is not an organ that is ever intended to penetrate a vagina. So it is not intended to respond to a wet and warm environment in the way that the penis does.

The key reason that a woman does not orgasm with a lover (by any means) is that she cannot be aroused. A secondary reason is that a woman achieves orgasm in only one scenario: through masturbation alone. The sensations of a lover’s tongue do not provide the kind of clitoral stimulation that might cause female orgasm. A woman needs to press down over the front of the clitoral organ and use her pelvic muscles to provide pressure from behind.

… whereas 44 percent of the women orgasmed regularly with clitoral stimulation by hand, 42 percent orgasmed regularly during oral stimulation. (Shere Hite 1976)

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